By Ray Richardson
If the Twins play the New York Yankees in the American League playoffs next year, and somehow manage to beat them, the Twins’ front office should organize a parade in downtown Minneapolis. A parade would be worth a special celebration in that case.
Until then, the Twins will have to endure another offseason of agony after losing AGAIN to the Yankees in the postseason. The Yankees’ 5-1 victory Monday night before a disappointed sellout crowd of 41,121 at Target Field completed a 3-0 sweep in the best-of-five American League Divisional Series and stretched the Twins’ losing streak to 13 consecutive playoff losses to the Yankees.
The loss also extended the Twins’ overall postseason losing streak to 16. If you’re wondering when was the last time the Twins won a playoff game, here it is: a 2-0 win over the Yankees in New York on Oct. 5, 2004. Yes, the Twins would be well within their right to have a parade the next time they beat somebody in the playoffs, which now will have to wait until at least 2020.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone used six pitchers to frustrate the Twins’ offense, which had been one of the best in the American League throughout the 2019 regular season. The Twins led the majors with 307 home runs and .304 batting average.
Monday night, however, the Twins were unable to deliver a clutch hit when they needed one. The Twins stranded nine runners, including an ominous meltdown in the second inning when they came up empty after loading the bases with nobody out. Yankees starter Luis Severino retired Miguel Sano on a popup and struck out Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave to end the threat. The Twins had runners in scoring position in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings but failed to score. Eddie Rosario’s eighth-inning homer represented the Twins’ only run of the night.
Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman worked the eighth and ninth inning to earn the save.
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi (0-1) served up a creditable performance, allowing only two runs on five hits in five innings, but he didn’t get enough support from the Twins’ offense and the team’s bullpen. That was a common theme during the series. The Yankees outscored the Twins 23-7 in the series. In each game, the Twins’ run production decreased. The hope of an extended postseason run had faded.
It was still a memorable year for the Twins, who won the American League Central Division championship for the first time since 2010.
Other highlights: the Twins became the first team in major league history to have five players hit 30 or more homers — Nelson Cruz (41), Max Kepler (36), Miguel Sano (34), Eddie Rosario (32) and Mitch Garver (31).
Ray Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org